Nominal pros such as myself grow insanely leery of straight-to-DVD offerings. If it were Vegas, we'd have our fingers broken on a daily basis, for all the sucker bets we take watching such movies. This time, a 2007 Jane Lynch (Glee) headliner about the perils of marriage finds me happily flexing my intact digits. Funny, truthful and crass, this delightful comedy overcomes a shaky start to provide plenty of hearty laughs and a satisfying finish.
Bob Jacobs (Mad TV's Bryan Callen) loves Cheryl Murphy (Alexie Gilmore) enough to want to marry her. Cheryl's parents hate Bob enough to want to put him through hell in order to earn that right. Part of that trial involves Church-mandated couple-to-couple counseling. No big deal, just three Saturdays in a row. Yet when they first meet their counselors, older, experienced married couple Dick and Nora Stelmack (Matt Servitto and Lynch) it's clear right away something is seriously wrong. Luckily, their wrong is our right, as weird, inappropriate humor, negativity and more will keep you laughing until the more-realistic-than-usual happy ending sends you off with a pat.
Horror of horrors, voiceover narration introduces us to at-the-altar Bob and Cheryl: when asked if she does, Cheryl utters the film's title, reviewers slap their foreheads, and the movie flashes back. Things slowly get better after that, offering queasy hope. Then Bob and Cheryl meet Richard - "call me Dick" - Stelmack. As Dick, Servitto's wide-eyed mania - half evangelical, half 11-year-old airplane-glue-addict - jolts the movie a bit, and the laughs start. When Nora sashays in minutes into the first counseling session, and drunk off her ass, red flags rise. Will this be too broad, too earnest? Yes, and no. In fact Lynch barely utters anything during her first ten minutes of screen time, merely sloppily sneering in the background. This bold move, pulling back and getting weird, establishes writer/director Steve Blair's intent, which is to gouge laughs out of too broad, too earnest, acidic and corrupt humor that's still safe to watch with a date.
It comes a cropper, as my legally conscripted date and I laugh over numerous successive jokes, completely caught off guard. For a while it looks like Lynch's game. She's arch, aloof, odd and abstract, providing proof of her comic powers well before Glee came along, and generally trashing the place. Not to be overshadowed, Servitto turns it up to 11, oozing sexual desperation and depravity while occasionally snapping back into hypocritical, devout pedagogy. He's a pathetic man with fierce convictions, and when he puts a hairpiece on to go to the strip club, he looks pretty good. Of course Cabana-Boy Callen has an easy time cautiously burning slowly ala that 'Focker' Dustin Hoffman, while playing a decently realistic fiancÚ and getting in a few of his own laughs. Gilmore is appropriately cute, believable and funny in a rom-com kind of way, but is deprived of much of the good stuff doled out mostly to Lynch and Servitto.
As a 'movie' movie, I Do & I Don't falters occasionally, when a few overtly stylized scenes remove viewers, to no specific end, from the narrative. And a feel-good conclusion refutes much of the previously spewed bile in favor of a 'true love' ending. However, as the coda trundles towards the credits, you'll sniff a bit of too-true cynicism the likes of which only Morrissey regularly outlines. It's a truly refreshing dose of feelings only you yourself might admit to, even if you feel shameful for doing so.